Disscussions of Japanese literary modernism often focus on the avant-garde poetry movements of the 1920s and 1930s such as Surrealism, Dadaism, and Futurism. This lecture will concentrate on Japanese modernist fiction of the period between 1900 and 1940, defining it through comparisons with European modernist novels of roughly the same period. In both Japan and Europe, modernity deepened the view of self as well as revolutionized the relation between self and landscape. Texts of Natsume Soseki, Mori Ogai, Shiga Naoya, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann and Italo Svevo will be considered with the goal of comparing and contrasting their construction of landscape and engagement with the unconscious.
Janet Walker is Professor of Comparative Literature at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where she teaches courses in the novel East and West, autobiography East and West, the cross-cultural study of literary genres, and European and Asian modernities. Her recent publications include Visiting Flower Meisho (Famous Places) and the Negotiation of Cultural Identity in Texts by Futabatei Shimei and Nagai Kafu and The Cinematic Art of Higuchi Ichiyo's 'Takekurabe' (Comparing Heights), 1895-96. She is currently writing a book entitled Landscape, Modernity and Identity in Japanese Fiction, 1885-1937.